New US sanctions target Iran’s drone supply to Russia

The targets include eight senior executives of an Iran-based firm involved in the manufacture of drones used by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

The US Treasury Department on Friday unveiled new sanctions targeting an Iranian drone manufacturer’s board of directors, as part of the Biden administration’s wider effort to choke off Iran’s supply of drones to Russia.

The new designations include eight senior executives of Paravar Pars, an Iran-based firm that manufactures the Shahed-series drones used by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Aerospace Force.

Paravar Pars was among four companies targeted with US sanctions in September for alleged involvement in Iran’s delivery of unmanned aerial vehicles to Russia. The Treasury said in a news release Friday that Paravar Pars played a key role in the research, development and manufacture of the Shahed-171 UAV.

The Treasury also designated two Iranian navy vessels that US Special Envoy for Iran Rob Malley said were “steaming to the Western Hemisphere for a voyage purportedly to project Iranian military might in the region.”

Iran has come under increasing international pressure for helping replenish Russia’s dwindling supply of weaponized drones for use in attacks on Ukraine’s cities and civilian infrastructure.

Tehran has acknowledged providing drones to Moscow, but says it did so prior to the full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2021. Despite ample evidence, Russia denies having used Iran’s Shahed- and Mohajer- series drones on the Ukrainian battlefield.

Iran’s mission to the United Nations in New York did not immediately return a request for comment on Friday.

In a tweet Friday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the administration would “continue to close loopholes and restrict Russia’s desperate attempts to wage its unprovoked war in Ukraine.”

The Biden administration has taken aim at Iran’s drone production and transfer through export controls and five rounds of sanctions issued since September. Last month, the Treasury Department announced designations on six executives and board members at Qods Aviation Industries, which it said was involved in the manufacture of Mohajer-6 drones.

In a statement announcing the latest sanctions, Blinken noted that Iran’s continued supply of military drones to Russia has violated UN Security Council 2231, the resolution that enshrined the landmark nuclear deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. The Biden administration’s efforts to revive the 2015 deal collapsed in late summer after Tehran made last-minute demands that Washington said fell outside the scope of the original nuclear agreement.

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